FIFTH OFFICIAL

The last look at the weekend

December 1, 2008
By The Fifth official
(Archive)

Few of us like Monday but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from a five-star weekend.

GettyImagesRonaldo inexplicably handles the ball

Ronaldo's helping hand

Confusion reigns, dear reader, over the thought process of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. His sending off in the Manchester derby surely qualifies as one of the most bizarre dismissals the Premier League has seen. Rising to meet a corner, he inexplicably double-fisted the ball into the floor rather than heading it towards goal, then plucked his 'sour face' routine out of nowhere after the referee had the temerity to hand him a second yellow card.

Now, the Portuguese prima donna is never far away from controversy, but what on earth was he doing? Did he jump? Was he pushed? Did he inadvertently hear a wolf whistle from the stands from the lucky playboy model he's having 'relations' with this week and decide to catch the ball? Was he really protecting his face?

He should have done us all a favour and allowed the ball to wipe that smug grin off his chops for good.

Gallas' gob galvanises Gunners

William Gallas' big gob could be the best thing that's happened to Arsenal in a long time. Let's face it, he was bound to be deposed as captain by Cesc Fabregas at some point, so why not now? At least his outburst has seemingly united a fragmented Arsenal squad. In their hatred of him.

So Fabregas gets the job he was born to do, commanding instant respect from his team mates despite his tender years, and driving the team forward from the engine room of midfield. It consolidates his desire for the club and makes him less likely to be poached by the lurking sharks of Real Madrid or Barcelona. Gallas meanwhile is suitably chastened to start turning in performances like he used to before he was burdened with the captaincy and trying to curry favour with the newly tight-knit group.

I must say though, the big team hug at the end was a bit excessive. Had they lost Van Persie and Gallas would have doubtless been thrust into the middle of a circle of Gunners players who'd have shouted "fight, fight, fight!" until Uncle Arsene came to break it up.

Ashley's 'perfect' business model

The perfect way to run a Premier League football club, by Mike Ashley. Part 236. Step one, alienate 99.9 per cent of the entire fan base by installing, then sacking their number one idol. Step two, make it clear you value Dennis 'the weasel' Wise's opinion far greater than aforementioned folk hero, even if his transfer policy leaves the club criminally short of depth. Step three, finally make a decision the club's faithful agree with by choosing to put the club up for sale. Step four, coincide step three with the gravest financial crisis since the Second World War.

Step five, appoint a temporary manager who has been out of the game for four years and who also has a potty mouth. Step six, hand aforementioned manager a year-long contract after failing to flog a club in the relegation zone. Step seven, hand interim manager a stack of funds and total power of attorney over transfers, the two things which said folk hero wanted. Step eight, talk about making a dramatic comeback to the terraces hoping notoriously loyal fans have forgotten steps one to seven. Textbook.

I, Keano

GettyImagesRoy Keane: Statement delivered to League Manager's Association website.

Well, eating Andy Reid obviously didn't do the trick (see last week's FO) so Roy Keane must be running out of tricks to frighten his players into performing, unless he's eyeing up another of his plump squad to have with some boiled tatties and dumplings. Saturday's thumping at the hands of liquid-football exponents Bolton Wanderers made it four straight defeats at the Stadium of Plight and five losses out of the last six.

At times of crisis like these you need a man possessed with an iron will, unshakeable conviction and a focused, determined vision of the path ahead. Surely you'd get such reassurances from a man like Keano - the sort of chap who could snap a twig just by staring at it. "I might wake up on Monday morning and think I'm the right man. On Tuesday it might be different." Oh dear Sunderland fans, pontificate on that.

Respect goes out the window at the Bridge

Good old Luiz Felipe Scolari - we knew he'd flip at some point. It's all been sweetness and light so far; some gentle humour here, a nice headline for the tabloids there. Ultimate respect for all his opponents, gushing in his praise for those teams who defeat or hold his Chelsea side, never one to shirk the tough questions and unshakably honest when he answers them.

But after suffering his second defeat at home in the space of four games to another of his title rivals he let rip. The focus of his ire was the esteemed gentlemen who, like a dodgy, all-male Aretha Franklin tribute act, are inextricably linked with the word. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Now Big Phil is demanding an apology from the officials who "killed" his side at Stamford Bridge on Sunday by allowing Robin van Persie's first goal when he was clearly a yard offside.

Honeymoon period over methinks.